(Una semana con Beatrix Potter)


            Tutor académico: María Cruz Dulce Bermejo

                    Grado en Educación Primaria

Escuela Universitaria de Educación de Soria. Universidad de Valladolid

                         Soria, junio de 2013


                            PRIMARY EDUCATION”

                  AUTHOR: Clara Alcalde de la Fuente

      ACADEMIC TUTOR: Maria Cruz Dulce Bermejo

La utilización del cuento en el aula de Educación Primaria es un recurso didáctico primordial
para la enseñanza y el aprendizaje de la lengua inglesa.
Sus ventajas son muchas: motivación, desarrollo de la imaginación del niño, estimulan su
curiosidad, favorecen la comprensión de la lengua, afianzan el vocabulario y las estructuras
gramaticales, favorecen el conocimiento de otras culturas, potencian el disfrute y el placer por la
El trabajo incluye en la primera parte una breve exposición sobre las consideraciones
metodológicas en la enseñanza de la lengua inglesa en E.P., un apartado sobre a inclusión del
cuento como recurso didáctico en el Currículum y un extenso epígrafe sobre la importancia del
cuento en el aprendizaje de la lengua inglesa.
En la segunda parte se expone la metodología empleada y en la última parte se presenta un
proyecto interdisciplinar sobre la utilización de los cuentos de Beatrix Potter en la enseñanza de
la lengua inglesa en 3º de E.P.
Palabras Clave: Cuento, Historias, Recursos Didácticos, Lengua Inglesa, Educación
Primaria, Aprendizaje, Proyecto Interdisciplinar.

The use of the tales in Primary Education is a primordial didactic resource for the process of
teaching-learning of the English language.
There are many advantages when telling tales to pupils: they motivate them, develop their
curiosity, make their understanding of English easier, reinforce the vocabulary and the
grammatical structures, benefit the knowledge of other cultures and potentiate their enjoyment
and the pleasure of reading.
In the first part the project includes a brief exposition about some methodological considerations
in the teaching of English language in Primary Education, one section about the inclusion of
tales as didactic resources in the Curriculum and an extensive epigraph about the importance of
tales in the learning of English language.
In the second part we find the methodology used and in the last part we find an interdisciplinary
project about the use of the tales of Beatrix Potter in the teaching of English language in the 3 rd
year of Primary Education.

Key Words: Tale, Stories, Didactic Resources, English Language, Primary Education,
Learning, Interdisciplinary Project.

I. INTRODUCTION....................................................................................................... 1

II. JUSTIFICATION OF THE PROJECT .................................................................. 1

III. OBJECTIVES .......................................................................................................... 2

IV. THEORETICAL AND LEGAL FRAME ............................................................. 3

LEARNING ENGLISH IN PRIMARY EDUCATION ................................................... 3

   IV.1.1. Which methodology should be followed? ........................................................ 3

   IV.1.2. Main conditions in the English learning process .............................................. 5

   IV.13. Needs/Requirements for teaching ...................................................................... 5

CURRICULUM OF PRIMARY EDUCATION .............................................................. 6

ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING ............................................................................ 8

   IV.3.1. Reasons to use tales in the classroom ............................................................... 9

   IV.3.2. Which tales should be chosen in Primary Education? Choosing a tale .......... 11

   IV.3.3. Using tales to develop linguistic skills ........................................................... 13

   IV.3.4. How to tell a story in English ......................................................................... 15

   IV.3.5. Dramatization of stories.................................................................................. 17

V. METHODOLOGY .................................................................................................. 18

V.1. STUDY OF REFERENCES ................................................................................... 18

V.2. INTERVIEWING TEACHERS AND STUDENTS .............................................. 18

V.3. CLASSROOM OBSERVATION ........................................................................... 20

V.4. PERSONAL CONTRIBUTION ............................................................................. 22
VI. INTERDISCIPLINARY PROJECT: “One week with Beatrix Potter” ........... 24

VI.1. WHAT IS AN INTERDISCIPLINARY PROJECT? ........................................... 24


VI.3. ACTIVITIES OF THE PROJECT ........................................................................ 26

   VI.3.1. Activities in the class of English .................................................................... 26

   VI.3.2. Activities in the class of Physical Education .................................................. 35

   VI.3.3. Activities in the class of Science .................................................................... 39

   VI.3.4. Activities in the class of Drawing and Painting ............................................. 42


VIII. CONCLUSION ................................................................................................... 45


VIII.2. GENERAL CONCLUSION ............................................................................... 45

IX. BIBLIOGRAPHY .................................................................................................. 47
One of the most important legacies that the humans have transferred to coming generations is
the literary creation and one of its most important manifestations is the creation of tales.
The tales are part of the folklore and also of children’s lives since they are only babies. Parents
get their kids off to sleep by telling them tales. Tales are a very important part of children’s lives
so they are essential and necessary.
The importance of tales is something that nobody questions in the childhood. Children love tales
and listen to them once and again even when they don’t know how to read yet; they like
listening to them always told in the same way, without variations, even learning their sentences
by heart.
There is no need of looking for a concrete purpose when reading a tale; the simple fact of
reading and enjoying while doing is already enough justification. Moreover, apart from the
pleasure of reading, tales help children to learn to read and write and also to communicate in the
mother tongue by using grammar and vocabulary appropriately.
So if traditional tales are so important in children’s lives as well as in their learning of the
mother tongue, why don’t we use them in the process of teaching English Language?
Furthermore, why don’t we use tales of the folklore or of the Anglophone tradition to learn
The main aim of this final project is to answer these questions by using a line of research which
joins both the tradition (traditional tales) and the pedagogical innovation (its innovative use in
the process of teaching English Language).

From an educational point of view, the increasing relevance of the knowledge of the English
language in our society, and the certainty that our students will need to use this language in their
social and professional future, have led to a significant progress in teaching methodologies as
well as in the economic and personal means that have been substantially increased in Primary
Education for the last years.

From a grammatical approach, focused on grammar and vocabulary learning, English language
learning has evolved into a teaching approach which seeks for communication and
understanding of the English language. In order to attain this, students’ motivation and interest
must be achieved. Teachers have to –must– select topics, materials and resources depending on

the students’ communicative needs and level. As it will be explained in this essay, the selection
of stories plays a significant role as a remarkable didactic resource.

We will try to show that stories are not just a complement, but a valuable channel to facilitate
and boost students’ involvement in the learning of a foreign language.

The pages of a tale offer a wide range of possibilities both for the teacher and for the learner.
They motivate students and make them develop a taste for understanding and speaking the

Many pedagogues have emphasized that “the best moment for learning is when the student is in
a hardly stressful situation. What’s better than the relaxed atmosphere created by a story to
achieve this aim?” (Hearn, 2005, p. 130).

The present essay is structured as follows: the first section shows the theoretical contribution of
pedagogues and education specialists on the tale as a didactic resource, as well as its inclusion
in the Curriculum for Primary Education; the second section deals with the methodology used in
the development of the present essay, and finally, a didactic unit has been designed by myself:
an ambitious multidisciplinary project for the 3rd year of Primary Education (P.E.) based on the
stories by the British writer Beatrix Potter.

                                 III. OBJECTIVES
       To analyze the reference frame of the process of teaching and learning English
        Language in Primary Education.
       To research which the theoretical frame is, that is the main contributions of specialists
        and authors in Pedagogy regarding the inclusion of tales when teaching English in the
       To do research into the use of this resource to include it in the Curriculum of
        Primary Education.
       To demonstrate through the observation in the classroom if the tales are a valid
        didactic resource to teach English language.

   To elaborate an interdisciplinary project by using the tales of Beatrix Potter for
        the 3rd year of Primary Education and research the real possibility of developing
        it in the classroom.
       To do research into the advantages of increasing the use of the tales in other
        subjects taught in English: Science, Drawing and Painting and Physical



It is beyond doubt that children learn much faster than adults and that they absorb any kind of
information quickly, especially oral information since it is the most natural and effective means
of communication. Therefore, teachers have in their hands the opportunity to coordinate all the
tools and resources needed in order to teach the language in a constructive and meaningful way
in a period when children learn easily.

There are multiple and varied benefits of early language learning. Cummings (1994) or Genesse
(1994) highlight:

        -   To raise learners’ self-confidence when they are aware of their own learning
            process and apply it to other fields.
        -   To develop linguistic and metalinguistic competence.
        -   To reinforce skills to learn languages and the oral communicative ability increasing
            the range of topics to talk about.
        -   To encourage creativity.
        -   To enhance cognitive development of children and their learning skills.

        IV.1.1. Which methodology should be followed?

When teaching a language we must teach how to communicate, leaving apart the study of
grammar as the core of the learning process. Students are able to learn the past ending before
being able to use the tense and even use it in a conversation before the tense itself has been
explained (Pérez Cabello, 2009).

The knowledge of a language requires a long learning process. Although the language must be
learnt and used in different situations, the time in Primary Education is limited. That is why the
learning of a foreign language should start as soon as possible and an adequate methodology
must be employed; a productive methodology which increases children’s communicative ability
in a foreign language.

The teacher must create a context similar to that of a linguistic immersion, that is, make the
English classroom a space for children to use the language while they are learning it; it is
necessary to joint comprehension and production from the very beginning (Pérez; Roig, 2004).

It has been proved that a traditional methodology based on the learning of rules and formulae as
well as on the imitation and repetition of patters, is not efficient. Instead of this methodology,
form has been replaced by sense in current methodologies, a less repetitive way of teaching
which has placed students at the centre of the teaching-learning process.

The main purpose will be helping children communicate in English from early stages, learn
things using English, interact with their classmates, and use different strategies according to the
different features of the students. The teacher will try to make the English learning process a
rewarding, easy and useful task for the children.

Therefore, we need:

        -   The most productive methodology possible –as we have already mentioned– in
            view of the very short time available in an English lesson.
        -   A longer time exposure, which means the elaboration of an interdisciplinary project
            where English language is to be used in other areas of the curriculum.

Learning a language allows the speaker to communicate with others, understand what they are
conveying and foster contact with other realities. From this perspective, the language is
therefore not understood as an abstract system, but as a means for learning in different social
contexts and with different purposes.

“Its learning not only helps develop the children’s cognitive abilities, but it also develops other
capacities such as the emotional and that of forging social links and integration” (Pérez & Roig,
2004, p. 21). Respect for other cultures and the appreciation of their differences is also achieved
through the learning of English.

IV.1.2. Main conditions in the English learning process

    -   English is not the language used by students, even though it is present in every
        social sphere. That is why the learners’ initial competence in this language is
        limited or virtually zero. Therefore, the teacher must not only improve it (as
        happens in their mother tongue), but create it.

    -   The time devoted to the teaching of English in Primary Education is extremely
        limited. Foreign languages are only taught from 3 to 5 hours a week, depending on
        whether the school is a bilingual or linguistic one or not. Within this short time,
        students must achieve the ambitious objective of being able to communicate in
        English within the classroom and in other communicative situations. Therefore, an
        effective, productive didactic proposal with the appropriate resources to facilitate
        students’ learning must be developed (Pérez & Roig, 2004).

        This didactic proposal must create communicative contexts where English is needed
        in order to communicate. Learning is achieved by communicating, the language is
        learnt when it is used and that is why teachers must create symbolic situations for
        children to speak in English. An ordinary life in the school is not enough.

    IV.1.3. Needs/Requirements for teaching

    -   Trained teachers who are aware of what they are asked for and of the
        aforementioned limitations.

    -   Educational team cohesion and coordination.

    -   A curricular frame developed not only by the teacher but by the management team,
        too; the whole school engagement is basic as well as the extension of the use of the
        English language to the families and society in general.

    -   Motivation. Both boys and girls learn better while playing. Motivation is provided
        through games; that is why funny activities are so important and stories reading –as
        we will see later on— encourage motivation.

-   Comprehensive input and output are linked to language teaching. Within the classroom,
    the teacher should be sure that learners understand what they are listening to and speak
    in English from the very first day even if they do it at a basic level.


The Government Decree 40/2007 of 3rd May describing the curriculum for Primary Education
for the Community of Castile and Leon. After analyzing the legal document in depth, we realize
that the use of stories in Primary Education contributes to the achievement of the objectives set
in the decree, as well as to the acquisition of basic competences.
We are going to analyze the objectives set by the Decree and how stories can help us reach it:

Section 4 of the Decree states the main objectives for Primary Education. Among them,
acquiring the basic communicative competence, at least, in a foreign language which will allow
students to produce and understand simple messages and deal with everyday situations at a
basic level. Following these guidelines, stories do favour expression and comprehension of the
English language, as we have seen in the previous analysis and will analyze in depth along this

On the other hand, the introduction of the section devoted to foreign language is a declaration of
intent on what this area covers. We have selected some statements related to the use of stories in
the classroom.

    1) We must prepare students to live in an international, multicultural and multilingual
         world. It is necessary the settling of a European culture by means of the comprehension
         of customs and different ways of living. There is no doubt about how reading literature
         from other countries brings cultures closer.

    2) The learning of a foreign language must contribute to the development of positive and
         receptive attitudes towards other languages and cultures. Stories foster tolerance and
         respect to other cultures.

    3) A conscious use of knowledge, abilities and experiences in the languages known by the
         children is outstanding in Primary Education in order to understand and produce
         meaningful output based on speeches and texts (stories) with a clearly identifiable

    4) The lack of the use of foreign languages in their environment turns the school into the
         place to practice and learn the language. For this reason, teachers must create a
         bilingual environment within the classroom being the reading of stories in English one
         of the most remarkable tools to fulfill this objective.

5) The proceedings to achieve an effective oral and written communicative competence
        constitute the core of the Foreign Languages area. As we will see later on, stories favor
        written and oral learning.

    6) The aim of the area will be the learning of discursive skills that might be used in
        various areas: being the literary among them. Stories and tales hold a privileged
        position in that field.

The area contents are grouped in the following sections: oral language, written language,
linguistic devices of the language and the socio-cultural dimension of the foreign language.
Let’s see how stories can be used in the classroom to foster the learning of the foreign language
in each of the section:

        -   Section 1: Listening, speaking and conversing are the most remarkable aspects for
            this stage. Several speakers must serve as linguistic models so learners will be
            aware of differences and nuances that an environmental linguistic model provides.
            Storytelling by the teacher will let students to listen and practice pronunciation.
        -   Section 2: Reading and writing, the use of written language will depend on the
            learners’ reading and writing skills: reading strategies, planning and producing
            written texts. In order to facilitate the development of a plurilingual competence, the
            curriculum includes some strategies and resources to practice reading and writing
            skills through several text types. Stories are one of these resources.
        -   Stories can also contribute to section 3: Language knowledge, which includes both
            linguistic contents, contents for reflection on learning and learning strategies to
            foster students’ self-confidence on their abilities.
        -   Stories have much to say in the subject of section 4: Sociocultural aspects and
            intercultural awareness. Stories help learners learn about customs, features and
            peculiarities of English-speaking countries and appreciate the differences with their
            own culture which will facilitate intercultural communication.

        Stories as a learning resource contribute to the development of basic competences, too:

        -   Directly to the competence in linguistic communication.
        -   To the competence on knowing how to learn as it improves communicative abilities
            since children realize they are learning better and that the strategy of using stories
            makes the learning process easier.
        -   When reading and understanding a story, the learner is aware of the relevance of the
            fact of being able to communicate in a different language so it contributes to the
            personal initiative and autonomy competence.

-   It contributes to the development of the digital competence through the use of
            computers and whiteboards as complements to the storytelling.
        -   It also helps the acquisition of social and civic competence since it promotes the
            interest on and tolerance to different cultures.
        -   The use of narrative texts, such as stories, will bring oral and written culture closer,
            so the area also helps in the acquisition of the cultural and artistic competence
            through the use, appreciation and enjoyment of these texts.

We are going to mention some of the concrete objectives for the foreign language area as part of
the Curriculum for this stage and we are going to see how the use of stories in the classroom
contributes to their achievement:

        1) To listen and to understand messages (stories foster aural comprehension);
        2) To recognize and use basic communicative strategies and
        3) To express and interact orally in everyday communicative situations (stories are
            used to improve speaking skills);
        4) To plan, organize and write texts (stories are used to learn writing);
        5) To read and understand texts withdrawing general and specific information in
            order to develop learner’s autonomy and a taste for reading (reading stories just for
            the pleasure of reading);
        6) To value the foreign language and other languages in general as a means of
            communication and understanding between people from different places and
            cultures and as a tool to learn other contents (stories as culture transmitter);
        7) To show a receptive and confident attitude towards the learning process and the
            use of the foreign language (children learn easier when using stories in the
        8) To identify phonetics, rhythm, stress and intonation as well as linguistic structures
            (stories are used to learn grammar).


Stories have always been a vehicle to train cognitive, emotional and affective abilities. The
pages of the tales offer never-ending possibilities for both the teacher and the student, while
raising students’ motivation and taste for the new language.

Stories are the most spontaneous and natural means of communication. Every teacher has used
this resource when teaching a language. ‘Once upon a time’ are some kind of magic words that

immediately catch children attention. Oral tales are essential for learning English: kids listen to
it carefully, understand what they are listening to, and acquire vocabulary and expressions
repeated once and again in tales.

Tales are an independent cultural bridge towards the language used which lead us to a magic
world where every dream becomes true --even that of teachers who dream on their students
communicating in English (Pérez, 2009).

Therefore, there are plenty of reasons for using stories in the classroom. Let’s make a briefly
mention of some of them.

        IV.3.1.Reasons to use tales in the classroom:

        1) Tales motivate students and make them develop positive attitudes towards the
            English language and other cultures. New stories raise the children desire for
            learning and knowing.
        2) Tales develop children imagination and creativity.
        3) A fine selection of tales may help solve behaviour problems within the group or
            among individuals.
        4) Stories nurture curiosity: if the teacher uses pre-reading activities, children’s
            attention will be caught; they can use the linguistic formulae that usually appears in
            tales (about this time, then, first, but, and, then, after, one morning, when...returned,
            now, my dears, said, once upon a time they were) to teach the language. Another
            remarkable formula is that of repeating linguistic structures for the kid to
            consolidate them. When listening to these structures in the linguistic context of the
            tale, the children will consolidate them.
        5) Verbal elements and images work together in stories to make comprehension easier.
            Children will enjoy illustrations.
        6) Tales are playing activities and therefore, they give cause for many games and
            activities to learn English. For instance, when reading Little Red Riding Hood, the
            teacher can use the expression ‘What….you have!’ Another activity is building
            words with nut and asking the children ‘What did Little Red Riding Hood have in
            her basket?’ Some helpful images can also be used: walnut, chestnut, hazelnut.
        7) Vocabulary games can also be played: Goldilocks and the three bears to work the
            parts of the house; beauty and personal hygiene with The Beauty and the Beast or
            The Sleeping Beauty (Pérez Cabello, 2009).

8) A country culture is transmitted through its stories; this is a very important thing
             since knowing other cultures from childhood favors tolerance within the classroom
             and towards other cultures.
        9) The right tales can be used to work interdisciplinary contents: moral and civic
             education, education for peace, environmental education, equality, etc.

Other authors highlight different reasons to work with tales in the English language classroom
(López, G., 1996):

a) Psycho-affective: Tales are a source for fun and pleasure for children. We all have heard a
child asking for listening to the same story again, and realize how interested he/she was in the
story. If we get to raise children motivation towards the story in English, we will be fostering a
positive attitude towards the foreign language and towards that language learning.
Tales train imagination and help develop creativity.

b) Discursive-linguistic: The repetition of direct, concrete and simple grammatical structures
within a fixed context make understanding easier and acquisition possible. It is the same with
the vocabulary of the tale whose reiteration makes it get fixed on their minds. We will focus on
this matter later on.

c) Psycho-cognitive: Stories develop the ability to concentrate. They also reinforce the
conceptual development of the children when practicing size, form, time, etc.

d) Socio-cultural. Stories bring the language socio-cultural knowledge of the story closer to the

We can also add some other reasons stated by Brewster (2008, p. 187):

        -    Children can feel personally involved in a story as they identify with the characters
             and try to interpret the narrative and illustrations. This helps develop their own
             creative power.

        -    Fantasy and imagination are linked to the child’s real world, they provide a way of
             enabling children to make sense of their everyday life and forge links between home
             and school.

        -    Listening to stories in class is a social experience. Storytelling provokes a shared
             response of laughter, sadness, excitement and anticipation which is enjoyable and
             can help build up confidence and encourage social and emotional development.

-     Storybooks cater for different learning styles and develop different “intelligences”
            that contribute to language learning, including emotional intelligence.

                             they teach                                  they teach
                                                   motivate               Grammar
                               useful               pupils
                             vocabulary                                     and

                                                                                      they develop
                                             The tales in                             imagination
                                            the classroom
                                             help to teach
           they are                             English
             a fun                                                                    they make
                                              because...                                 pupils
            activity                                                                    behave
                      they benefit                                     they
                      cooperation                                    transmit

           Graphic 1: Benefits of the tales in the process of teaching English language

IV.3.2.Which tales should be chosen in Primary Education? Choosing a tale

First of all, stories must belong to the Anglo-Saxon culture. This is basic for a linguistic
immersion to be achieved in the classroom. Children feel the need of learning about the culture
whose language is being studied.

These are the five premises to choose a story (Hearn & Garcés, 2005):

    1- It should respect every child culture and believes;
    2- It must be suitable for their age and interests, and language must be appropriate to their
        knowledge. They should be able to understand it even if their English level is limited.
    3- It must show a situation and a development so as to satisfy children’s curiosity. It will
        be more interesting if there are surprising or comic elements.
    4- Children must never feel frustrated due to an unfinished plot.

5- Children must be able to repeat key structures. For example, when reading The Three
        Little Pigs, the wolf says “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow the house down” several
        times. This grammatical structure is fixed on their minds easily and with no effort.

Illán expresses the same opinion when he states that before choosing a story, the following
aspects have to be taken into consideration:

        1) Whether the book is original or adapted and simplified for children.
        2) The book’s relation to the curriculum (school, family, Christmas, etc.); the content
            must be relevant, interesting and meaningful.
        3) Whether the book provides attractive visual support to help students understand
        4) Preferably books using repetitive structures requiring repetition. Through this,
            students develop memory skills and build oral confidence.
        5) The length of the story and organization of ideas.
        6) Its relation to the target language and culture (Illán, 2007).

Stories can be analyzed according to:

    A) Content: every day actions (such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Don’t Forget the
        Bacon o Having a Picnic); stories about animals; traditional stories (The Little Engine
        that Could); fairy tales; about folklore (Irish Folktales) or fantasy; interdisciplinary,
        behavioural, personal growth, etc. (The Little Engine that Could).

    B) Design: with a small text, or even no text, or just a selection of pages, or showing three-
        dimensional images...

    C) Narrative features: they can be selected according to their rhyme or repetitive structures,
        to an outstanding sense of humor, to work phonetic resources, etc.

It is extremely important that the teacher know the texts in depth so as to make the most of this
didactic resource. Some learning cards might be used for the stories selection (see Appendix

Besides this learning card, teachers can develop, and save on their computers to keep a database
with new titles, other cards depending on the aims to be achieved through the story; i.e. a card
related to grammatical aspects (see Appendix 1.2).

These cards will help teachers choose stories according to the learning needs to be

IV.3.3. Using tales to develop linguistic skills

    a) Learning vocabulary

The story is a means of learning new words; children learn actively, that is, not learning them by
heart but understanding them within its literary context.
Teachers —helped by students— can prepare different resources to favor the learning process;
for example, flashcards showing the character’s face or other elements from the story with its
meaning written underneath, or grammatical structures showing different tenses. Children will
feel agents of their own learning process when preparing the cards.

Several games can be played with flashcards made from the pictures of the stories: guessing
which card is missing; naming which is in front of, behind, on top or at the bottom; kids can
march with them on their heads and repeating their content; playing hopscotch…; playing Snap;
using the alphabet and a dice they can create words selected from a story; in groups, asking
questions about the cards being the prize the performance of the story (dramatization).

Learning vocabulary does not have to be boring or repetitive. Plays created from the stories are
very useful when learning vocabulary: for instance, mime and recitation. If we get to
accompany it with some movement, even it is just a slight one, we will get the vocabulary to be

    b) Learning grammar

The pleasure of reading a story a second time is an advantage to learn grammatical structures.

The structure can be explained in advance or while reading. For example, interrogative
sentences can be introduced using Beatrix Potter’s stories, with characters such as Peter Rabbit
or Benjamin Bunny or vocabulary related to food such as: bread, carrots, milk, blackberries,
pears, lettuce, cakes... as follows:

Teacher: Oh! The Benjamin Bunny likes carrots. And you, Laura (addressing to a student), do
you like carrots?
Laura: Yes.
Teacher: Yes, I do. Yes, you do.

Following this example, grammatical aspects such as questions, countable and uncountable
nouns, pronouns, and so on can be practiced. Vocabulary can also be reviewed with flashcards,
toys or, in this case, even real food.

Learners can write the structure in pairs and then draw the piece of food they have to say.

A different way of practicing grammar could be role changing: students can act as teachers and
ask questions to their classmates.

    c) Learning how to speak

Speaking is the most difficult task in language learning and that is why it is essential to show
the children the advantages that communicating in a foreign language have. In order to speak,
you first need to listen and tales are a great teacher’s ally. Some didactic proposals are:

            1) Listen and repeat sentences from a tale by passing on the information to a
                 classmate (this game is usually called the telegram). Listen and order the scenes
                 of a story.
            2) Listen and distinguish sounds or words (teacher asks them to raise their hands
                 when listening to certain words).
            3) Listen and spell some words from the story.

The main purpose of English language teaching is to get children communicate in English and
that is why teachers provide students with several linguistic expressions and formulae for the
learners to use them. For example:

        1) Asking for permission, asking a classmate for something.
        2) Greetings and farewells.
        3) Routines (to start and finish the lesson or to give instructions during an activity).

In Primary Education –especially in the first courses–, it is important for children to follow the
routines they have learnt in pre-primary education. Routines help learn the language in a
systematic way and foster the linguist self-confidence of the child who is able to predict what
the teacher is about to say. When teachers use a routine (a sentence or a gesture) before starting
reading a tale, they will avoid distractions and will encourage children’s attention. (Pérez
Cabello, 2009)

Children must learn how to speak, but they must learn to do it properly, using the right
pronunciation which can be worked through stories. Which activities may be useful?:

        1) To learn English sounds: prepare a poster with the phonetic representation of words
            belonging to the tales’ titles, characters or outstanding elements.
        2) Rhymes or tongue twisters from tales and games help achieve a fine pronunciation.
        3) To build words from the tales by using individual sounds from the alphabet.

d) Learning how to write

Children will learn to write the following items thanks to stories:

        a) Words (to learn new vocabulary while consolidating handwriting and spelling).
        b) Sentences (to review and consolidate grammatical structures).
        c) Texts (they can create their own texts to foster their creativity).

IV.3.4. How to tell a story in English

Generally, English teachers only use literary texts to work reading skills and the texts to be used
are those from coursebooks. Owing to the lack of time and the fact that they have to attach to a
curriculum, teachers cannot work with English stories to prepare their own materials to
complement and support the coursebook.

The tale, besides being used –as we have seen– to help us learn grammar, can also be used for
its own purpose: reading for pleasure. Children do love listening to stories, just for the pleasure
of listening. Stories are also a never-ending source of information about the language itself; they
offer a linguistic richness in their expressions and an aesthetic sensitivity in their words;
besides, storytelling is a good introduction to oral communication through fine intonation, voice
modulation, and so on (Perera & Ramón,1995, as quoted by Ramón, 1996).

Telling a story is not easy. When we listen to a professional storyteller we realize how a
difficult task it is. A tremendous display of enthusiasm is required to tell or read a story. We
will communicate this enthusiasm to children who will be hanging on listening to the story.
When representing a story, body is as important as voice to make it look real. “Voice, pauses,
rhythm, volume and tone are absolutely necessary; body, facial expression and movement are
essential” (Hearn & Garcés, 2005).

Adapting reading rhythm to listeners’ curiosity, attention and reactions is as important and
essential as acting with your body and gestures, especially when the public is a very young one.

It will also be helpful to establish a special routine when telling a story: use the same time of the
day; devote some minutes every day to the story (story time); teachers may use some pieces of a
costume (a hat, a cloak, a magic wand...); children may sit on a semicircle on the floor in front
of the whiteboard, whenever it is used, or around the teacher, if no technology is being used and
there is only a book on his/her hands, which will be more than enough. Creating the same
atmosphere every day will bring students closer to reading.

As we have already seen, teachers can tell a story just for the mere pleasure of learning the story
or for working some of the aspects mentioned above. The way of telling the story will vary
depending on the purpose of the reading activity.

When we are using a story as a resource to learn English, three stages can be distinguished:

    a) Before listening to the tale: vocabulary will be reviewed. For instance: when working
         Little Red Riding Hood, we should review vocabulary related to parts of the body (eyes,
         face, teeth, ears, nose…), family (mother, grandmother, daughter…), clothes (coat,
         cloak, hat, pyjamas …), items of food that Little Red Riding Hood carries in her basket
         (bread, honey, apples…), animals that she finds in the forest (birds, deer, squirrels,
         foxes, wolf…), etc.
         We can play the game ‘Simon says’ for children to practice this vocabulary: “Simon
         says point to your eyes”.

         When working with an unknown story, teachers must nurture learners’ curiosity before
         starting reading by promising them a fantastic story.

    b)   During the tale: We must be sure that children understand what we are telling them.
         Some questions such as ‘Which colour was Little Red Riding Hood’s coat?’ are very
         helpful. A whiteboard to display the characters can be a helpful tool to facilitate
         comments and questions.

         We are now listing the storytelling techniques stated by Brewster (2008, p. 197):

         -   If possible, have children sat on the floor around you, making sure everyone can see
             you and the illustrations and can hear you clearly.
         -   Read slowly and clearly. Give your pupils time to relate what they hear to what they
             see in the pictures.
         -   Make comments about the illustrations
         -   Encourage your pupils to take part in the storytelling by repeating key vocabulary
             items and phrases.
         -   Use gestures, mime, facial gestures to help convey the meaning.
         -   Vary the pace, tone and volume of your voice to build suspense or surprise.
         -   Pause where appropriate to add dramatic effect or to give children time to relate
             what they hear to what they see, and to assimilate details in the illustrations.
         -   Disguise your voice for the different characters.
         -   Make sound effects where possible.
         -   Ask questions to involve children: What do you think is going to happen next?
         -   Do not be afraid to repeat, expand and reformulate.

c) After the tale: once the story has been heard, it is important that children are able to
        repeat it. They can work in groups or plan a short dramatization. Children do not mind
        listening to the same tale once and again, so they will both enjoy themselves and fixed
        grammatical and lexical structures on their minds. A funny, educational activity is a
        picture dictation (Hearn; Garcés, 2005). Continuing with the previous tale, learners will
        draw a picture of a character (such as the wolf) and add the teacher’s instructions:
        “Draw two big black eyes”; Draw a big nose”.

        In order to reinforce the learning process, some activities as the following ones can be
        -   True or False sentences (children rise to their feet if the sentence is true).
        -   Listen to some sentences from the story and guess who says each.
        -   Retell the story leaving some details and ask the children to complete it.
        -   Ask the children to order a sequence of images.
        -   Puzzles or crosswords with learnt vocabulary.

IV.3.5. Dramatization of stories

Almost every tale can be dramatized (role play) if it is adapted by the teacher to the group level
and characteristics.

Every child must take part in the dramatization; if there are not enough roles, the performance
will be repeated until all of them have played their parts.

Children really enjoy preparing a play: set, clothing, performance; and we will be surprised of
how easily they learn their roles. Sara Phillips states that “Drama is not only about the product
(the performance) but part of the process of language they use by involving their personalities
(Phillips, 2010, p. 5)”. Motivation, as we have already explained, is basic for the learning
process; that is why dramatization can be of great help for the English language teacher.

As we have seen, didactic applications of stories in the English language learning and teaching
process are enormous. Although we have selected some of them, the list seems to be endless. If
teachers ‘squeeze’ the tale they will find: vocabulary, grammar structures, enjoyment, the
pleasure of reading and learning about other cultures and traditions, and interdisciplinary
contents, etc. Besides, teachers can link the stories to other subjects, and that is why stories can
be used in other subjects such as Science, Draw and Painting or even Maths.



The first stage of this essay was a detail research of information and the access to bibliographic
resources (books and articles from specialized teaching magazines) both in English and in
Spanish. The libraries of the University College of Education as well as the Public Library have
been extremely helpful to compile the necessary material to undertake this project.

Dialnet, the scientific articles database, has provided us with the complete specialized online
articles needed.

Fistly, some general essays on English language didactics were studied to prepare the most
general part of this essay. Then, more concrete essays on the topic itself –the use of stories in
the English teaching process—have been read. A wide bibliographical selection, which has been
already referred to along the text, is quoted at the end of this essay.

Reading and studying the bibliographic resources has offered us a comprehensive learning of
the topic and of the significance that all the authors and specialists who have studied tales have
given to the use of stories in the foreign language teaching process.


Once we have finished with the theoretical basis of our study, we have considered very
interesting for the project to know the opinion “in situ” of teachers and pupils about the use of
tales in the class. We consider it interesting and an innovative contribution, the introduction of
the interviews done to English teachers and students about some aspects related to the use of
tales in the English teaching and learning process.
We have decided to make a direct interview to 25 pupils of the 3rd age of Primary Education of
a public school as well as to 10 teachers of three schools because it is an easy method to be
controlled. So through the direct interview we have guaranteed the answers to our questions.

The teachers’ interview was answered by ten English teachers from State and State-subsidised
schools from the city of Soria.

The students’ interview was hold by Primary Education 3rd graders during this academic year

A copy of the questions orally asked to the teachers and children is included in the appendices
of this essay (see Appendix 2).

The following conclusions can be withdrawn from both interviews:

Teachers’ interviews

         1) Teachers think tales are part of the English class (especially those of the
              coursebook) and they find them useful for improving students’ academic
              performance and for the creation of a playful, motivating atmosphere in the

         2) However, tales are mainly used for reading:

                a.   4 of the interviewees devote from half an hour to an hour to reading stories
                     a week.
                b.   3 teachers prefer students to read the stories at home.
                c.   3 teachers alternate reading at school and at home.

         3) Most of the times, stories and activities used are those from the coursebook.

         4) All of them state that there is a Story Corner in the classroom or in the school
              library where children can read or borrow English books.

         5) They admit that books from the Story Corner are not usually used in the
              classroom, just occasionally.

         6) Interviewed teachers admit that stories could probably be ‘exploited’ deeper (than
              how they do it now) and that more activities could be carried out. But they state
              that they would need some more time and dedication. Only one of the teachers
              thinks his work with activities and stories is enough.

         7) Dramatization is not one of the favourite activities of English teachers. Only 2 out
              of 10 interviewed teachers have ever used dramatic activities in English with
              children. They argue that those activities are too difficult to carry out and that the
              same aims can be achieved by other means.

All the teachers agree on the following aspects:

    1. Stories are a resource which offers lots of didactic possibilities, even though they do not
        exploit them, and offers many advantages, highlighting its motivating power.

2. Phonetics, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, structures and so on could be worked
        though stories. They admit that they should work more these items through stories.
    3. An increased presence of stories can be found in the didactic units of recent
        coursebooks as well as more activities related to reading.

Students’ interviews

18 children from 3rd grade Primary Education were interviewed. The drawn conclusions were
as follows:

        1) Children like reading stories in English and they raise their self-confidence in the
              learning process and their self-esteem when they understand what they are reading.
        2) They like the Reading Corner placed in the English classroom but they do not bring
              books home.
        3) Almost every tale they read is one of their textbook.
        4) They learn about some Anglo-Saxon cultural aspects through stories (for instance,
              about festivals such as Halloween or Christmas).
        5) They are not aware of learning grammar with the stories.
        6) They value stories because they are not part of their daily routine.
        7) They prefer listening to tales rather than reading them.


In our brief teaching experience during last year Practicum I, we could see how the English
language teacher worked with stories in the classroom. The students belonged to 2 nd course of
Primary Education and we would like to highlight two of the activities where stories were used
and which we found remarkably interesting:

1st) The Synthetic Phonics Model used by the teacher focuses on teaching vocabulary through
the sounds and not by spelling. The teacher worked with some tales from the series Read Write
Inc. to reinforce green and red words; green ones follow the rules, that is, each letter is read as
in the alphabet, while red ones are read in a different way. How can they be distinguished? The
aforementioned tales followed this structure:

              -   Green and red words from the story are displayed at the beginning of the book.
                  The teacher read them, focusing on its pronunciation before starting the story.

-    Then, children read the story in groups of three. Every child read every page of
                        the story.

                   -    After reading it, they completed some worksheets to consolidate what they have

This activity can be used to work phonetics though storytelling-reading. Children’s high
motivation made learning much easier for them. Besides, the teacher got to raise learners’
curiosity by using encouraging sentences such us: This is a fun story, Let’s see what is going to
happen right now

When understanding the story they were reading, children did quickly realize the usefulness of
learning a foreign language what fostered their self-confidence and desire to keep on learning.

2nd) Storytelling and activities with stories: we will mention the activities used to work with
Goldilocks and The Three Bears.

The aims to be achieved through this activity were learning vocabulary and reading

Preparation 1:

             -    12 Picture cards with pictures of the characters and objects of the story (3 bears, 3
                  bowls, 3 chairs, 3 beads).
             -    12 Word cards with vocabulary (big bear, middle sized bear, little bear; big bowl,
                  middle sized bowl, little bowl; big chair, middle sized chair, little chair; big bed,
                  middle sized bed, little bed).
             -    Class-sized poster of key sentences in the story with ten words missing.


                  1º) In class: Groupwork of 5 students each. Teachers stick 12 Picture cards on the
                  board. Each of them has been ascribed to a letter and the 12 Word cards have been
                  numbered from 1 to 12. Children have to match them and write the numbers
                  associated to each letter.

    Material extracted from (Wright, 2004) (see Appendix 3).

2º) In class: Groupwork: Give out the ten strips with sentence. The children put
            them into the correct sequence on their tables.

            Once upon a time there were                             bears: a big Father .......... a ........
            Mother Bear and a ......... Bear.
            The bears lived in a .......... in the middle of the ............
            One morning they made porridge for breakfast. Father Bear poured the hot ..........
            into the three bowls: a small ........... for Baby Bear, a middle-sized bowl for .............
            bear and a ........... bowl for himself

Post-reading activities:

        1. Children, helped by the teacher, invented another ending orally.
        2. They draw pictures in their folders.
        3. They wrote key sentences from the story using the learnt vocabulary.

We helped in this activity by preparing the flashcards with the opposite adjectives learnt before
(thin-fat, small-big, hot-cold, etc.) but we worked with other characters from another tale
(Goldilocks and the Tree Bears) to check if the children had understood them.

3rd) Personal experience in “Las Pedrizas” (Practicum II):
During the subject “Practicum II” coursed this year in the school in Las Pedrizas school in Soria
we had to prepare a didactic unit whose main topic was the Past Simple. The tutor of the school
encouraged us to include in our lesson plan some activities of this final project to check their
effectiveness in the class.
In particular, we taught two sessions (1 and 2) which are included in this project in the part
“Activities in the English Class” and the results were very positive and satisfying so this
guaranteed our previous hypothesis in this report which stated that there are a lot of activities
which can be carried out by using the tales when teaching English Language.

We consider that the usefulness of stories as a resource in the teaching of the English language
has been proved throughout these pages. Tales should have an overwhelming presence in the
classroom, as well as the use of didactic materials or the development of teachers’ own
materials to work when reading stories in the classroom. Our opinion, stated on the previous

pages, is based on the reading of some references, on our brief teaching experience, and on our
own reflections.

We now present a didactic proposal to work stories in the English, Science, Draw and Painting
and Physical Education classroom.


According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online (2013), a project is “a piece of planned work or an
activity which is finished over a period of time and intended to achieve a particular aim”. A
project is usually a long term exercise or study of a particular subject done over a period of
time, especially by students.

In the context of CLIL learning, projects are “multi-skill activities focusing on topics or themes
rather than on specific language targets” (Haines, 1989, p. 1). They are based on different tasks
and works but are not replacements for other methods and resources (didactic units, activities,
exercises, etc.).

An interdisciplinary project consists on the articulation between the different subjects with the
purpose of getting students to acquire the basic competences about the specific knowledge of
each subject.
In order to elaborate an interdisciplinary project, the teachers have to find connections between
the topics which they are going to teach in their classes and the ones of other subjects, planning
common activities and projects.
The main advantages of an interdisciplinary project are the following ones:
    1) It     promotes    the   cooperation      between   different   subjects,   avoiding   the
         compartmentalization of the knowledge.
    2) It can be defined as an innovative planned work which motivates the pupils.

In the bilingual section schools, children study several subjects in English Language apart from
English itself, so we have considered that the elaboration of an interdisciplinary project would
be useful to use tales in English as a unifying element of all the subjects. We have also tried to
show through this project that literature –tales-, is not an exclusive resource of the Language
classes as we will see in the following pages.

In this didactic project we are going to make use of the theory which has been analyzed
previously. With this aim we are going to use the tales written by Beatrix Potter as well as to

show some different activities and some other didactic projects which have been designed to
work in the subjects of English, Science, Physical Education and Drawing and Painting. This
project will be developed during a whole week which will be completely dedicated to the
English author. The main objectives of this practical proposal are:

        -   To get pupils to learn English through tales.
        -   To make children understand how important it is to communicate in English.
        -   To awaken interest of reading in children.
        -    To know a part of the traditional culture of England through Beatrix Potter’s tales.

The choice of the tales of this author for the project is based on several reasons:

    -   She is a British writer in English language as well as an excellent illustrator.
    -   Her tales are considered as traditional stories which can result useful to get children to
        know the English culture.
    -   The characters of these tales are very charming and lovable so children will be
        motivated by their adventures.
    -   The drawings, done by the author, are wonderful and children will enjoy looking at
    -   These tales can be easily adapted by the teacher according to the academic level.
    -   Their characters are animals which live in contact with nature so these stories can be
        used in the subject of Science. Moreover, the characters can be designed in the subject
        of Drawing and Painting.
    -   The author’s life will be useful for the children to have a general knowledge of the era
        when she lived.

    Level of the course
    The project is thought for the 3rd year of Primary Education in a school of linguistic section
    although it can also be adapted to the contents of other academic levels. The subjects which
    are going to be included in this project are English, Science, Physical Education and
    Drawing and Painting.

    Timing of the project
    The length of time which is going to be used in this project corresponds to a whole week
    (Beatrix Potter’s Week). The schedule of a linguistic section school consists of:
    -   5 sessions of English a week
    -   4 sessions of Science a week
    -   1 session of Physical Education in English (of the 3 weekly sessions)

You can also read